The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko

Book - 2016
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Seventeen-year-old Ivan Isaenko is a life-long resident of the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus. Born severely deformed, yet mentally keen with a frighteningly sharp wit, strong intellect, and a voracious appetite for books, Ivan is forced to interact with the world through the vivid prism of his mind. For the most part, every day is exactly the same for Ivan. That is until the seventeen-year-old Polina arrives at the hospital. At first, Ivan resents Polina. She steals his books. She challenges his routine. The nurses like her. But eventually, he is drawn to her and the two forge a romance that is tenuous and beautiful and everything they never dared dream of. And now Ivan wants something, whereas before he survived by being utterly detached from things and people: Ivan wants Polina to live. Hilarious and full of heart, The Invisible Life of Ivan Isaenko is a story about finding hope within the most desperate of circumstances.
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 2016
Edition: First edition
ISBN: 9781250081865
Branch Call Number: FIC
Characteristics: 326 pages ; 22 cm


From Library Staff

If you enjoyed the authentic, sympathetic, and complex characters of Rohinton Mistry's A Fine Balance, you may also enjoy this bittersweet and moving debut novel.

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Jun 19, 2019


Oct 08, 2016

An interesting read. It took a bit for me to be engaged with Ivan. Polina is a wonderful character. Haunting, sad, and yet the strength of the human spirit shines through. I expected to be sad, but not in the way that I was when I finished the book.

Oct 03, 2016

Hauntingly beautiful story. Chernobyl's legacy, deformed babies born after the incident, reside in a children's hospital. This is the story of 2 of them - Ivan, born with only one arm whose hand has but 3 fingers, and Polina, who has terminal leukemia. The bond these two form is touching and painful. Not a story for the weak hearted, but nonetheless beautifully written.

Sep 23, 2016

I got very lost in this book. It is a good look at what it means to be human and I thought it was very well done.

Aug 29, 2016

The story takes place in the Mazyr Hospital for Gravely Ill Children in Belarus where most of the radioactive effects of the Chernobyl nuclear accident happened in 1986. The author takes us inside the dramas, traumas, and comedy that takes place through the eyes of Ivan, a "mutant" that cleverly categorizes the residents, befriends a nurse, and discovers love through a leukemia patient. Ivan turns psychologist on the psychologist and manipulates his existence humorously in order to tolerate the existence he bears. I seldom find a book so compelling and entertaining. Stambach is brilliant!

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